Does anyone find it a bit troubling that the two most recent consoles, the PS Vita and Wii U, are puting up terrible numbers, and even at times performing worse or close to their predecessors? Even the 3DS, the successor to the most successful video game phenomenon of all time, is only performing "decently," and it took a pretty drastic price cut and a 2D Mario game to even bring it to that level.
This is all no coincidence.. I really feel that all signs are pointing to a major decline in the industry, possibly even an industry crash the likes of which has not been seen since Atari in 83 if the industry does not change its course. While many are certain that the new Sony and MS consoles will put up monster numbers, can we be so sure of this?
Here is my reasoning behind my doom and gloom:
- The faltering economy: This is the biggest reason the industry will suffer. With more and more people struggling to simply get by, you're going to have a harder time convincing people to invest in a brand new $300-$500 console, $50 for just one extra controller, and a starting price of $60 for most games.
- Oversaturation of the market: With the amount of consoles out now, plus PC gaming, which seems to be undergoing a bit of a renaissance, and tablets. How many consoles do people really need?
- Increasing development costs: Because of this, you are probably going to be seeing fewer and fewer major games released, as well as consolidation of larger companies absorbing the smaller ones. you also have several companies going bankrupt. We are already seeing this to an extent. Less games = less sales.
- Higher prices across the board scaring people away: Aside from Nintendo raising the price of their games from $50 to $60, joining their HD bretheren, we also have the next consoles from MS and Sony, which will probably START at $400, and may even reach dangerous territory of $599USD again. These prices will simply not be acceptable with the current state of the economy. They will scare people away. "How do you know they will cost that much??" Please.. If Nintendo's "underpowered" console needs to cost $350, and STILL doesn't land Nintendo a profit, how much do you think the competitors with their powerhouse consoles will cost? If people think Wii U sales are bad, I have a feeling they will be in for a big surprise when the others come out.
- Increasing competition from Steam and micro/indie games: We're seeing a massive increase and relevence of games in the $1-$10, thanks to deals on steam and indie games on cell phones, Ipads, and tablets. Even many free ones, if you don't mind puting up with ads. Again going back to the context of the poor economy, would you rather spend $1 or $60 on a game?
- Fewer and fewer "hit" games: Much like the consolidation of game companies, we are seeing a consolidation of sales in games. We use to have several games with healthy sales of 1 to 10 million. Just look at the sales of PS2 and Wii's libraries for instance. Or NES, SNES, and Playstation if you want to go even farther back. Now, we seem to have a small handful of games that achieve massive success (Call of Duty, Mario Kart, Wii Fit, NSMB, GTA, Halo), and not much else. Now it seems, even most supposed blockbusters stay on the top of the charts for a week or two then drop like a rock. Going back to MS and Sony's next consoles, what are all these major franchises that will sell these consoles? Gears, Halo, COD, God of War, GT, GTA, and what else? The number of major franchises on these consoles is seemingly dwindling. As for Nintendo, they seem to be trying to ride the success of their Wii titles, but this can only work for so long as people lose interest.
- Graphics reaching their peak: With the PS3 and Xbox 360, graphics are getting quite close to being "good enough," at least for the average consumer. This is why these consoles are still puting up decent numbers even now. Is there room for improvement in graphics? Certainly, but enough that is easily noticable to the human eye, and noticable enough for most to fork out another $400-$600 on a new console? Doubtful. With graphics getting closer to photorealism, there becomes less reason to crank out a new console every 5 or even 6 years, and likewise less reason for a consumer to upgrade.
This is why I believe the industry at large, is in for a major decline in the near future. The Wii U and Vita performances I feel are just the tip of the iceberg, the iceberg that the Titanic is getting ever closer to if the industry choses not to change their course. I see a major shift to the budget priced games on cell phones and tablets, and a bit of a transition back towards PC gaming. I'm not saying they're going to completely crash and burn, just that we're not going to see anywhere near the sales we've seen this generation.